International

Anti-gay Caribbean pastors urge Trump to end push for LGBT rights

Donald Trump (Photo by Transition 2017 via Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump (Photo by Transition 2017 via Wikimedia Commons)

Nearly 290 prominent conservative Christian leaders from the Caribbean have urged President Donald Trump to end U.S. support for fair treatment of LGBTI people — what they call “the LGBT agenda.”

So far, the Trump administration has done little in response to either their call or similar appeals from conservative Christians in the United States, with the exception of a change of policy on transgender students’ rights.

Randy Berry, the U.S. state department's special envoy for LGBT rights. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State)

Randy Berry, the U.S. state department’s special envoy for LGBT rights. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State)

Randy Berry, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons, will keep his role under the current administration, the state department announced last month.

In the letter to Trump, 289 Christian leaders stated that they accept “inalienable, God-given human rights” for all — “homosexual or otherwise.” But they alleged that the Obama administration was engaged in “coercion” that violated freedom of religion, expression and conscience.

The letter explicitly omitted any specific examples of such actions, saying that “there is no room to enumerate the various ways in which this is happening.” The omitted examples, the letter said, are the “same kind of coercion” as the Obama administration’s support for allowing transgender students to use restrooms that match their own gender — what the letter called, “using executive orders to foist transgender confusion.”

Trump administration has reversed that Obama administration position, in which the departments of education and justice directed schools receiving federal funds to let transgender students use facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

The Washington Blade quoted Caribbean LGBTI rights activists who criticized the pastors and their letter:

Joel Simpson, managing director of SASOD (Photo courtesy of the Guyana News Network)

Joel Simpson, managing director of SASOD (Photo courtesy of the Guyana News Network)

“It’s appalling that they are pandering to President Trump — a head of state who has demonstrated nothing but prejudice and intolerance towards entire communities, immigrants and Muslims especially,” said … Managing Director Joel Simpson [of Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination]

Erin Greene, an LGBT and intersex rights advocate in the Bahamas, agreed.

“The statement and petition is a desperate move by a once powerful structure in Caribbean societies,” she told the Blade. “The Christian church was once the center of Caribbean societies, and now, these pastors are grasping to retain power and relevance as they are being stripped of their influence in policy making and national development.”

“In fact, they would be fulfilling their Christian mandate by denouncing the exportation of anti-LGBTI hate speech to the region, and asking President Trump to focus on foreign policy initiatives that prevent the spread the of U.S.-based religious terrorism in the Caribbean, Latin America and the Global South,” added Greene.

The conservative Christian World News Group, based in North Carolina, reported (with a distinctly anti-LGBTI slant):

Caribbean pastors to Trump: Stop LGBT coercion

Leaders ask the United States to end exportation of LGBT agenda

WASHINGTON—Nearly 300 Caribbean ministers and church leaders have urged President Donald Trump to end U.S. efforts to export the LGBT agenda.

The Jan. 31 letter contains signatures of pastors from the Bahamas, Guyana, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago. The church leaders claim the Obama administration’s State Department deployed coercive measures to normalize same-sex marriage and elevate LGBT issues at the expense of human rights.

“It is not only the view of our Christian churches but the testimony of the recorded history of millennia of civilization that marriage can only be between a man and a woman,” the letter states. “Why should we be forced to believe otherwise?”

The ministers cited concerns over the influence of the State Department’s special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, a position the Obama administration created in early 2015.

The letter draws a parallel between what foreign countries are experiencing and last year’s Department of Education directive requiring all public schools to make special accommodations for transgender students or risk losing federal funding.

“Please understand that this same kind of coercion is being used against our countries to force us to fall in line with the entire same-sex agenda,” the pastors write. “In this letter, there is no room to enumerate the various ways in which this is happening.”

President Barack Obama created the special envoy for LGBT rights two years ago and appointed Randy Berry, an openly gay career foreign service officer, to lead the effort begun under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” Clinton said in 2011 when the State Department launched the Global Equality Fund, which has since spent tens of millions of dollars in 80 countries promoting [what the author of this WNG article insists on calling] an LGBT agenda. …

[Editor’s note: Anti-gay activists such as Faith McDonnell (cited below) repeatedly argue that accepting the human rights of LGBTI people of necessity restricts anti-LGBTI people’s rights, presumably including their supposed right to discriminate against people for their sexual orientation.]

Faith McDonnell (Photo courtesy of New Wineskins Missionary Network)

Faith McDonnell (Photo courtesy of New Wineskins Missionary Network)

Faith McDonnell, director of religious liberty programs at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said Berry’s presence as special envoy was concerning.

“All men and women, created in the image of God, must have their human rights protected,” she wrote in an email. “But in the type of climate created by obsession with LGBTI rights, the rights of the persecuted and oppressed became much less of a priority—particularly if the persecuted were Christians.”

The letter from Caribbean ministers reiterated that concern: “[S]o-called ‘gay-rights’ are pre-empting human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience.”

Republican lawmakers have been reluctant to criticize the Trump administration even after the White House announced Trump would keep unchanged a 2014 executive order that prohibited hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for federal contractors but included no religious exemption. …

Related articles about Randy Berry’s work:

Related articles about Donald Trump and Randy Berry:

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